Coach McCaffery Postgame Media Transcript

Feb. 2, 2011

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, the first thing I want to say is a big thank you to our fans that braved the elements to come out tonight and really impact this game in a big way. You know, when I walked out on the floor, I did not think I was going to see that many people, I did not. Our students showed up, our season ticket holders showed up, and when we made a run, they were there, and when they (MSU) made a run, they were there when we really needed them.

You know, I think it makes a big, big difference to our players to know that they have that kind of support, and it definitely impacted our ability to play the kind of defensive game we did tonight, which we’ve done at times but we have not been consistent and I think that was the key to tonight’s game, our consistency at the defensive end of the floor against a really good team.

Q. Another big game for Cartwright, can you talk about that.

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, what he’s doing is he’s really becoming a terrific point guard. He always was a scorer; and he could play point and he can get the ball up and he can get the ball in the lane. But there’s a lot more to being a point guard, especially at this level and I’m really proud of him and how hard he’s worked and how he’s studied and how he’s changed his game.

When you think about his performance down the stretch, and his numbers were not horrendous at Penn State but his decision making late in that game is not what it needed to be; five minutes to go, we lose by 14 and we talked about it and showed him.

Then he goes at Michigan, 9 0 (assist to turnover ratio) and tonight he’s 10 4, with a double, double. He can score but he can control the game, and that’s what we need him to do.

Q. You guys have played well in stretches, how close you were to a complete game tonight?

COACH McCAFFERY: This is our most complete game without question, I think at both ends. When you look at there are a couple things. We had eight guys score. For us, we had at Minnesota we had four guys score. So we had multiple people scoring, four people in doubles. We made our free throws. We had more assists than turns, and they had more turns than assists. You look at those numbers and I think it bears out that we were good at both ends and we were able to sustain it.

Q. What enabled you to be so consistent tonight?

COACH McCAFFERY: Focused concentration, tremendous effort and when we went to our bench, it was every bit the same. There was no change in our defensive effort, intensity or execution when we went to the bench and that’s what you need. At this level that’s what you need.

Q. You had a big night from Jarryd Cole, nine rebounds and was dominant both ends, just talk about the impact that he provided you right from the very start.

COACH McCAFFERY: When he’s playing like that, we are going to be a lot better, because he’s able to go out and play Draymond Green straight up, and that’s a big deal. You know, nine rebounds but he was slipping. He was active. He moved his feet. He was 13 9, and I had to take him out twice for foul trouble, or he would have played more minutes.

So when he plays like that, it takes a lot of pressure off of Basabe, Brommer, Devon Archie; and those two guys, how good were they: Six points for Brommer, six rebounds for Arch.

Q. Have you guys have a couple good practices?

COACH McCAFFERY: We did. We had in a lot of ways, a back to the drawing board kind of practice. When you get to this you get to February, you know, you already have everything in. You sharpen things up and then you focus on the next team on your schedule. You go game plan, personnel, especially because we had not played them.

But what we did on Monday was break down every aspect of our defense like it was the first day of practice. You know, how we position our feet; how we help and recover; how we defend the post; how we contain penetration; how we rotate out of it. All of those things, and then we did the same thing out of our zone. We played some zone tonight. We mixed our zone. And so we worked on an entire practice through an entire practice, all defense, Monday.

And then yesterday, normally we would introduce the next opponent two days before the game. This week was the first time we did not do that. We introduced them one day before and just focused on a defensive practice, because anything short of that, it didn’t matter what the game plan was. We’ve got to be able to stop somebody.

Q. You had a blitz right at the start of the game, 15 2, 20 6, 30 8.

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, I think it was the energy level at both ends and our ability to share the basketball and spread the offense around. We got some transition looks; we got some easy baskets. Seeing Andrew Brommer run the floor and finishing like that; that’s the kind of thing we need to see on a regular basis. He can run. Our big guys can run. We got the ball out in transition the last two ballgames a lot better than we have been doing it and we have to keep doing it.

Q. When you have an outstanding victory, how do you get the team to focus on something as fundamental as an entire practice of defense?

COACH McCAFFERY: Well, you’re talking about great kids here. We have terrific kids, and they don’t want to lose. They are trying to figure it out as we are trying to figure it out.

When you have good kids, they try to do what you ask them to do. So as frustrated as I might get at the latter part of the Penn State game, you know, they are still good kids that are giving me effort.

What they have to understand at this level, effort is one component. It’s got to be effort, concentration, execution. And that’s where our concentration sometimes wanes and our execution, we don’t rotate; we’ll hug the weak side, all of those things. And sometimes they just have to be reintroduced and reinforced, and then you have a kind of game like this.

And then where do we go from here; I think that’s the question.

Q. Points after turnovers, is that another sign of the defense right there?

COACH McCAFFERY: We turned them over 17 times. We were able to get out and run.

The other thing is, they send a lot of people to the glass. So their back is open, you can run on that team, if you can get the ball. They still had one 16 you look at one stat that not good, 16 offensive rebounds, but that’s a focus of how they play.

Q. How does important does getting a win over a marquis program help what you are trying to do, to get the players to keep guys into what you’re trying to sell?

COACH McCAFFERY: I’ll tell you this: They have never stopped buying in and they have never stopped coming with it every day in practice or trying to support one another. The intensity level and approach has been professional. I’m really proud of that.

I think we have got a lot of experience on this staff, and we are staying with these guys, every day, and they know that we are working to help them get better, and to help them enjoy a night like this.

When you put it all together, it’s a long season, and you know, we have had some moral victories which we don’t ever talk about. It’s one thing to say, you guys played pretty well against Ohio State, but these kids needed a win like this tonight to show that they could put it all together.

It’s a confidence builder and I think it’s a way for us to continue to improve and continue to gain confidence as we move forward.

Q. What do you think Matt’s milestone means for him and the rest of the team?

COACH McCAFFERY: I think a thousand points is not easy to do, but for him, I think we all sort of expected it would happen. He’s just been one of those guys that he’s just a workman like, he comes you know you’re going to get 15. He’s going to make his free throws and he’s going to give you a chance.

So I’m happy for him. I’m happy that he is enjoying this night, and that he played so well in a marquis game. There’s a lot of pressure on him to play this way every night, especially when he’s got some young guys that are getting in foul trouble and at times are struggling.

He’s been a rock for us.

Q. How long does it take or how short does it take for you to know what you had in him when you got here?

COACH McCAFFERY: I already knew before I got here. I knew before I interviewed for the job what he was. I watched him on film and I know his background. I met him when he was in high school when we came out here in ’05 to play in the tournament. I had dinner with him, so I knew who he was. I knew his dad; I knew his mom.

You look at the numbers and I watched them when they played on TV and then I watched them on tape when we were getting ready for Northern Iowa. I knew he was a great player and I know he’s a great person, and I’m happy that he’s having the success that he’s had.